I’ve had this fascination with Santa Barbara ever since I moved to LA a few years ago. My friend Ronnie and I were chatting about road trips and he started telling me about his childhood memories in Santa Barbara. [singlepic id=86 w=270 h=190 float=left] Santa Barbara was the destination city whenever there was a special occasion for his grandfather and grandmother (Gaudelupe and Raymond Ornelaz). They were from a town called Oxnard, CA. and used to go when the kids were young to visit their daughter Tricia. There was a specific gem on State Street they would go to for dinner called Enterprise. It was a big deal to the family because Enterprise was a bit more spendy than the other local restaurants so that in itself made it extra special because grandma Lu was tight with money. He said there was this ginormous tree that was 100 years old by the restaurant and they would take pictures every time they went to Enterprise. I saw this as my opportunity to share in those memories.
That’s it!! Road trip time! We headed straight to Enterprise. We ordered oysters, calamari, salmon and not sure why or how but we ended up with a chicken quesadilla as well. Quite possibly the happy hour menu was too good to resist.
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The restaurant smelled of fish and the specialty was seafood. There’s a huge fish tank when you walk in the door with beautifully colored salt water fish. It was fun watching the folks in the back shuck oysters and prepare the fish. There wasn’t anything fancy about the decor of the restaurant. It literally looked like a ship with buoys, nets and rope from a fishing boat.
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After lunch we decided to keep with the Ornelaz tradition and find the Moreton Bay Fig Tree. I could not believe how big this tree was. There was a fence around the tree to keep people from getting to close but after a few margaritas the fence didn’t exist plus when you see other people doing it it’s hard to resist.
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The fig tree is on the corner of Montecito and Chapala Street. The story goes that in 1876 a seaman presented a seedling of an Australian Moreton Bay Fig tree to a local girl who planted it at 201 State Street. The girl moved away a year later and her friend transplanted the tree to the corner of Montecito and Chapala streets. The tree was officially designated a historic landmark in 1970 and is also on the California Register of Big Trees.
Tree climbing over and now it’s time to shop. It wasn’t hard to figure out where the main strip was in Santa Barbara. There is a street called State that is known for 7 miles of shops, restaurants, theaters and coffee shops. Here’s a tip. Wear comfortable shoes not 4 inch over the knee boots. I highly recommend grabbing a coffee and just walking the strip. It’s a great place to people watch too. There are a ton of restaurants with patios and there is nothing more relaxing then grabbing a seat late afternoon around 6pm, having a glass of wine and some dinner in the open air. There is just something about that time of day!
There are a ton of missions and historic landmarks in Santa Barbara plus if you drive up on the hills the view of the town and the ocean is absolutely breathtaking but our last stop on this trip was Stearns Wharf. If you drive out after 8pm there is no charge, however, it’s so dark you can’t see anything! There is a bit of history to Stearns Wharf. There is a restaurant called Harbor Restaurant which was built in 1941 and provided economic stability for the wharf. The wharf also served the freight shipping needs of CA. South Coast for over a 100 years and is the most visited landmark in Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara is a great one day trip destination, however, there are a ton of hotels along the coastline and enough attractions that you could most definitely make a weekend out of it.
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Kimlai Yingling, Creator of EatinAsian